Bachelor’s in English Program Guide
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English programs encompass the study and the history of literature and equip students with advanced strategies for interpreting and understanding written work. English majors gain skills in analytical thinking, communication, and critical reading. English curricula build skills that apply in a wide variety of career paths, including journalism, advertising, public relations, and business. Moreover, many English program graduates go on to become educators, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about 1.9 million job openings for teachers from the preschool to postsecondary school level between 2014 and 2024. This guide offers an overview of the major requirements and probable career outcomes for an English degree.
What Are the Best English Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
|#1||University of Central Florida Orlando, FL|
|#2||Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AZ|
|#3||The Baptist College of Florida Graceville, FL|
|#4||University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL|
|#5||Indiana University-East Richmond, IN|
|#6||California Baptist University Riverside, CA|
|#7||Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN|
|#8||Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH|
|#9||Clayton State University Morrow, GA|
|#10||University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO|
Should I Get a Bachelor's in English?
An English degree builds a variety of versatile skills. The typical English curriculum develops skills in verbal communication, critical thinking, organization, and argumentation. Literature introduces new ideas and perspectives on topics such as history, gender, religion, and many other major aspects of the human experience. Along with an advanced skill set, an English degree also offers the chance to build connections that can help you throughout your career. Networking opportunities can shape career paths both during school and after graduation, and your college can also connect you with internships and career counseling to give you a leg up in the workforce.
If you're considering an English degree, a program's delivery format might affect your decision. In higher education today, the choice typically comes down to online versus on-campus, though more and more schools are offering hybrid options. Students who also work full time may find that online courses offer the flexibility to earn a degree while still maintaining a current career. Conversely, if you're fresh out of high school and want the conventional college experience — along with the more structured format of classroom learning — in-person programs provide more opportunities to interact with the campus community.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in English?
English majors generally excel in positions that require deep thinking, analysis, and involved communication, both through reading and speaking. They're likely to enjoy challenging work that allows for some creativity. Below, we outline some of the most common careers for English degree holders, along with brief job descriptions. The table below collects typical salary data and projected growth rates for each of these fields.
Writers create content for all types of media, such as books, magazines, TV shows, advertisements, and blogs. They commonly work from anywhere they can operate a computer, and many are self-employed. This job offers flexibility, freedom, and the opportunity to gain new knowledge constantly.
Median Annual Salary: $61,820*
Teachers give students the academic skills they need for college or the workforce. English majors often teach English and literature at the middle school or high school level, but they may also become elementary school teachers who cover general subject knowledge in addition to English.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170*
Journalists and reporters inform audiences about current events at the local, regional, national, and international level. They may publish their work in a variety of media, including newspapers, websites, television, and radio. English majors often find careers as print journalists, though many also work in other media.
Median Annual Salary: $40,910*
Working to maintain a positive public image for their clients, PR specialists interact with the media and attempt to control the type of information that reaches audiences. PR representatives may work for businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or individuals.
Median Annual Salary: $59,300*
Technical writers create manuals and other support documents that explain complex processes to a general audience, combining technical expertise with verbal facility. They need strong written and verbal communication skills and the ability to interpret in-depth information and translate it into accessible language.
Median Annual Salary: $70,930*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Best States for English Majors
When college students tell their peers or parents they intend to major in English, they sometimes hear in return, "What will you do with that degree?" While arguably warranted in today's technology-driven society, this dismissive attitude actually ignores a slew of post-graduate jobs for English majors. For example, English majors work successfully in education, law, translation, publishing, editing, copywriting, advertising, technical writing, journalism, and social media. Many English students also pursue master's and doctoral programs and become professors themselves.
The ranking below features U.S. states with some of the best job prospects for English majors. It also considers other factors, like statewide writers' networking groups, literary fairs, and English programs. What's more, the list recognizes rankings from U.S. News & World Report and explores special programs at major universities to determine the number of scholarships and research funding English students receive. Finally, this ranking examines the states' literary legacies, keeping questions like these in mind: which writers drew inspiration from their surroundings, and what inspired them? Maybe you can discover your own literary inspiration within these states as an English major as well.
To develop this ranking, we looked at five professions English graduates might pursue: writers, editors, journalists, public relations professionals, and high school teachers. Then, we examined employment figures in each of those professions for different states. Specifically, we considered location quotient figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures the concentration of one profession in one state, as compared to the concentration of that profession in the rest of the country. All data came from May 2017, the most recently available statistics. We took the average of the location quotients for those five professions to rank the best state for English majors and their job prospects.
Although not technically a state, Washington, D.C., tops the list for the best place to become an English major. As the nation's capital, many people know Washington, D.C. as a political city, but it also provides several employment opportunities for English majors. The District of Columbia ranks as the number one place in the country for public relations (PR) specialists. Fewer than one million people live in D.C., yet the district employed over 17,000 PR specialists in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On top of that, journalists and editors work in the area to report on elected officials and the federal government.
Washington offers several beloved book shops for literary enthusiasts, such as Capitol Hill Books and Busboys and Poets. Well-known journalists and authors frequent these bookstores for readings and signings.
Several prestigious schools call Washington home -- American University, Georgetown University, Howard University, and George Washington University -- and offer highly-ranked English programs.
People often think of New York City (NYC) as one of the most dynamic literary cities in the U.S. -- and that's no accident. Famous beatniks, poets, and novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Susan Sontag, and Sylvia Plath started their careers in NYC. Capitalizing on the city's international appeal, authors and other writers often visit New York to give lectures and host literary events.
U.S. News and World Report ranks the English program at NYC-based Columbia University as the third-best in the nation. Students who wish to enter journalism can land internships at publications like The New York Times or The New Yorker. Those aiming for publishing may apply for work at Conde Nast, Penguin Random House, or HarperCollins.
But literary types do not find inspiration just in the Big Apple. New York state offers several writing retreats and residencies in its rural areas. Writers can find inspiration upstate at the Millay Colony for the Arts, for instance.
Vermont does not rank as the most populous state in the country, and it certainly does not boast the greatest overall number of jobs. But the state does offer a high ratio of positions in journalism, public relations, writing, and teaching. Considering the state's population, Vermont actually provides many employment opportunities for English majors. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it offers the second-best location quotient for public relations professionals, after Washington, D.C.
Vermont also possesses its own important literary history. For example, Robert Frost lived in Vermont for 40 years; today, people can visit his cabin and experience the scenery that inspired him. Rudyard Kipling also lived in Vermont, where he wrote "The Jungle Book."
The towns of Brattleboro and Burlington host book festivals in the fall, where Vermonters can listen to author discussions and poetry readings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks New Hampshire (NH) as one of the top 10 states for writers, according to its location quotient statistics.
NH Writers can join the New Hampshire Writers' Project, which supports state literature, hosts a daylong writers' spring conference, and connects the literary community through various events (e.g., literary salons, workshops, theater readings, fiction slams, and writers' nights out). In addition, English majors may take part in Literary North, an organization connecting the writing communities in NH and Vermont. The group also puts on several events, including a book club.
The alma mater of Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka. Dr. Seuss), Dartmouth College offers an English program. Other noteworthy institutions for English majors in the state include the University of New Hampshire and Southern New Hampshire College.
Massachusetts rightly claims some of America's most historic literary figures: Anne Bradstreet wrote in Cambridge and North Andover 100 years before the U.S. fought for independence; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson all hail from 19th-century Massachusetts; and children's author Mother Goose lies buried in a Boston graveyard. As such, Massachusetts serves as a remarkable place to study English.
The state boasts several higher education institutions and notable English departments. Boston University, for instance, runs paid research projects for undergraduate students. Northeastern University also encourages students to participate in research and publish their writing in both literary and academic journals. Students can join the Massachusetts Humanities Council or the Boston Literary District to get more involved in their field.
Massachusetts consistently ranks above average in employment for reporters, writers, editors, public relations specialists, and secondary school teachers.
While Montana prides itself on wide and open spaces, several literary and writers' organizations allow English majors to connect with professionals in their industry. For instance, Humanities Montana sponsors several grants for students who want to boost their creative projects. Similarly, the Montana Women Writers group allows women writers to read, support, and connect with each other.
Large public schools like Montana State University and the University of Montana call Montana home. Several smaller schools also run English programs, including Carroll College and Rocky Mountain College.
Despite Montana's relatively small population, the state ranks fifth for the number of reporters and correspondents, two fields that employ English majors.
One of America's most famous novelists and short story writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald hails from Minnesota; students can visit his childhood house in St. Paul. Minnesota offers other incentives for English majors and book lovers, like a Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Sinclair Lewis' boyhood home.
The Loft provides unique opportunities for writers, readers, and other literary lovers. Located in Minneapolis, the Loft hosts year-long intensive writing projects to help writers finish novels. The organization puts on bi-annual conferences and celebrations like Wordplay and Wordsmith; it also offers manuscript critiques, residencies, and writing studios.
Prospective students can choose from several schools with English programs, such as the small liberal arts Carleton College or the much larger public University of Minnesota. After they earn their degrees, English graduates have a good chance of finding employment in the state. After all, Minnesota ranks as one of the top 10 states with the highest employment level for editors.
Author Ernest Hemingway reportedly said, "There are two places I love: Africa and Wyoming." These days, Wyoming continues to inspire writers and literary lovers.
Established in 1974, the Wyoming Writers group presents an annual conference for authors in the state. It also runs a writing contest every year, which could serve as a great opportunity for aspiring writers. Likewise, the Wyoming Humanities Council provides several resources for young writers, including free lectures and a podcast.
English students at the University of Wyoming can apply for a wealth of grant opportunities for research or studying abroad. Students who enroll at the state's smaller schools, like Casper College, can also opt to study English. After graduating, they may find jobs as high school teachers or public relations professionals. What's more, Wyoming enjoys status as the second-best state for the employment of journalists.
Two large public universities in North Dakota offer English programs: North Dakota State University (NDSU) and the University of North Dakota (UND). NDSU offers an internship program for its English students, and UND hosts a Grand Forks-based writing conference in the spring. Both schools also provide scholarship opportunities for their English students. Smaller schools like Bismarck State College and The University of Mary also offer English programs.
North Dakota works to protect its literary heritage. Contemporary writers who grew up in the the state, like essayist Chuck Klosterman, write about their experiences. A group called READ North Dakota collects literature from the state, and it invites writers for lectures and networking. The North Dakota Council on the Arts also provides English students with opportunities to connect with writers and readers. Students in Grand Forks, for instance, can meet up with the Northern Ink Writers Group to learn about writing and hone their craft.
Like its northern neighbor, South Dakota boasts two major public universities and several smaller colleges with English programs. The English department at South Dakota State University operates an English Club and presents the Great Plains Writers' Conference. At the University of South Dakota, students can take part in internships, publishing, and writing opportunities. Once they earn their degrees, English majors may find in-state employment. South Dakota ranks as one of the best states for journalists and public relations professionals.
Students can participate in literary events apart from their schools. The South Dakota Humanities Council hosts an annual Festival of Books, meant to bring readers and writers together through readings, panels, and workshops. A few different writers' groups also meet in the state, including the Black Hills Writers Group.
A quintessentially midwestern state, Nebraska lays claim to several American writers, one of the most famous being Willa Cather. Cather's home state provided so much inspiration that many of her novels -- including "O Pioneers!" and "My Antonia" -- recount tales from Nebraska.
English students can keep up with the latest literary ongoings through Nebraska Writers Guild, in operation since 1925. Humanities Nebraska also provides opportunities for people interested in the arts. Students may take advantage of the organization's Nebraska Literacy Tour, which connects modern-day readers with historical Nebraska authors.
The state's main public university, the University of Nebraska, operates through campuses all over the state. Students enjoy landed internships with the Prairie Schooner literary magazine, the University of Nebraska Press, and the Lincoln Literacy Council. Once graduated, many English degree recipients secured jobs at law offices, the Peace Corps, and Nebraska newspapers.
Maine has inspired many literary types over the years. For example, after Henry David Thoreau attempted to climb one of Maine's mountains, he wrote his travelogue The Maine Woods.
Over a century later, Maine continues to impress writers and book lovers alike. The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance supports a network of authors, poets, and essayists across the state. Similarly, the state's Humanities Council offers grants for writers and other creatives, hosts literary programs, and even runs a podcast.
Students can find several schools with English programs in this northeasternmost state, including the University of Maine, Bowdoin College, and Unity College. They can also participate in the Word Literary Arts Festival on the Blue Hill Peninsula. Every October, writers and literature lovers join for workshops, discussions, and a poetry crawl.
One of Iowa's claims to fame is the University of Iowa writing workshop. Founded in 1936, the Iowa Writers' Workshop trained short story authors Flannery O'Connor and Raymond Carver. Students can also study English at institutions like Drake University and Grinnell College. Once students graduate, they can find job opportunities in the state. In fact, Iowa also ranks among the top 10 states in employment for journalists and high school teachers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics location quotient statistics.
Iowa City operates as one of 10 UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world. With its many literary events and institutions, the city (and the state) can keep English majors busy. Iowa Writers' House hosts workshops in Iowa City, covering topics like travel writing, poetry, and the female voice. It also offers fellowships and editing services. In addition, the Iowa City Book Festival invites authors and poets for readings and discussions every autumn.
Out of the top 10 English programs as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, three come from California schools: the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of California in Los Angeles. California also ranks as the fifth-best state for writers, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics location quotient figures. Certainly John Steinbeck thought so. He set several of his novels, like "East of Eden," in California. Contemporary writers like Amy Tan, author of "The Joy Luck Club," also use California as inspiration.
Whether students choose to live in southern California, the middle of the state, or northern California, they can find a network of other literary lovers. The California Writers Club operates through 22 chapters across the state, and the Southern California Writers Association frequently invites guest speakers. Students can attend conferences throughout the state as well, where beginning writers can meet with manuscript consultants to help them with any writing projects.
Utah ranks third in the list of best states for writers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics location quotient statistics. Perhaps Utah universities' dedication to English majors comes as no surprise then. At Brigham Young University, a large private school run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the English department hosts the Central Utah Writing Project and summer institute. The school also invites authors and poets to speak as a part of its English Reading Series.
Utah State University and the University of Utah, two large state schools, also administer English degrees. Utah State hosts a creative writing contest and publishes an anthology of students' work. The University of Utah also puts out several publications, including the Quarterly West and Western Humanities Review literary journals.
Finally, English students can join the League of Utah Writers or participate in events hosted by the Utah Humanities group, which presents an annual book festival that brings in high-profile writers from around the world.
Several small private schools and large public research universities call Oregon home, including Portland State University, the University of Oregon, and Oregon State University. The University of Oregon not only offers an English degree, but it also runs the Center for Teaching Writing, dedicated to students who hope to become teachers. Students can also win money through the university's essay awards. At Oregon State, students can supplement their English degrees with minors in writing, film studies, or applied journalism.
On top of that, Oregon serves as a top state for writers and for journalists, as Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Portland-based students can get their foot in the door with these careers by joining the Oregon Literary Arts group, which connects writers, offers competitions and fellowship programs, and hosts an annual book festival. Writers can also participate in the Oregon Writers Colony, a "haven for writers" located in Rockaway Beach, which offers workshops.
With its towering mountains and beautiful landscapes, Colorado has influenced many artists and writers over the years. Stephen King, for example, based his horror novel "The Shining" in a hotel in Estes Park, near the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The state welcomes literary lovers through its many writers associations. The Colorado Authors' League, the Rocky Mountains Fiction Writers group, and the Northern Colorado Writers group all connect the state's writers. Student members can enter contests, attend conferences, and take advantage of workshops and meetups.
Colorado's universities offer several English degrees. At the University of Colorado at Denver, students can study English with an emphasis in creative writing, film studies, or literature. At Colorado State University, students can concentrate in creative writing; English education; language; literature; or writing, rhetoric, and literacy. With all of these options, English students can enter into a variety of professions.
Texas claims its share of writers and screenwriters: O. Henry, Katharine Anne Porter, Horton Foote, and Steve Martin, to name a few. Even more recent books like "No Country for Old Men" and "Friday Night Lights" are set in Texas' southern landscape. It makes sense, then, that the state ranks highly for writing-related professions like high school teachers and public relations specialists.
If students want to venture into the field of publishing or writing, they can find resources through the Humanities Texas group or the Lone Star Literary association. Both groups run conferences and public lectures for writers.
Texas' higher education holds a good reputation. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks the English program at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin among the top 20 in the nation. To bolster their degrees, UT Austin students can enter writing contests or participate in a summer program at Oxford University.
Kentucky colleges and universities supplement English students' education through several unique opportunities. For instance, learners at the University of Kentucky can add a creative writing minor to their degrees. They may also enter awards and scholarship contests or complete internships at local public libraries and law firms. The University of Louisville encourages English majors to register for challenging honors courses and creative writing courses. The school also runs a study abroad program for learners who want to study literature in the United Kingdom.
Students in Louisville can join the city's literary arts association, which hosts readings every month where authors read their work, and members can sign up for the open mic. The organization also hosts an annual festival featuring pitch sessions, readings, and creative writing workshops. The Kentucky Humanities group holds a yearly book festival as well, inviting national and international writers to speak to literary lovers in Lexington.
The Last Frontier State, Alaska, lives up to its adventurous nickname. Many authors have drawn inspiration from the state's vast, beautiful, and awe-inspiring scenery. Jon Krakauer wrote "Into the Wild" about a young man who gets lost in the Alaskan wilderness, and Jack London wrote books about wolves and the Klondike Gold Rush.
The University of Alaska's English program offers English concentrations in secondary education to learners who plan to teach. The university also hosts the Pacific Rim Conference, where students can listen to keynote speakers and present their own work.
English students can join either the Alaska Writers Guild or the 49 Writers organization, each of which runs conferences, creative writing workshops, and writers' retreats. In addition, students who want to pursue projects can apply for grant funding from the Alaska Humanities Forum, which supports the state's literature and arts.
Located in the center of America, Missouri boasts a rich literary history. One of the most famous American writers, Mark Twain, grew up in Missouri. Two of his beloved characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, spent their childhoods on the Mississippi River. Contemporary writers like Kansas City native Gillian Flynn, author of the thriller "Gone Girl," hail from Missouri too.
Students can study English at the University of Missouri, Truman University, and Missouri State University, among other state schools. English students land internships and jobs at local magazine publishers, university libraries, and companies like Persea Books and Andrews McMeel.
For those interested, English students can involve themselves in extracurricular literary programs and publications. For example, Missouri unites book lovers through the The Missouri Review, a literary journal, and the Missouri Writers' Guild. St. Louis-based students can also join the city's writer's guild.
A large state with a sizeable population, Pennsylvania contains many private and public higher education institutions, most with English programs. Significantly, the English program at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) ties for third place as the best in America.
Students at Penn can apply for research grants, study abroad with the university's London program, and take challenging courses through the English department's honors program. The university also offers an alumni mentorship program, which allows students to connect with professionals.
English students from all over the state can participate in events from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, which holds intensive storytelling trainings, and the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival. Plus, aspiring writers can join Pennwriters, a group for storytellers that offers conferences, a newsletter, and online courses. In Philadelphia, students may take advantage of private editing and manuscript guidance from the Philadelphia Writers Workshop.
A few large universities call Idaho home, including Boise State University, Idaho State University, and The University of Idaho. Brigham Young University operates a campus in Rexburg, and the state contains several smaller private and public colleges. Most of these schools offer English programs, and several offer scholarships and internships. In particular, Boise State runs the Hemingway Literary Center, which provides scholarly research opportunities and literary events throughout the year.
English students in Idaho can also participate in nonuniversity literary groups. For instance, the Idaho Humanities Council publishes anthologies of essays and provides grants for people and organizations who want to pursue humanities projects. In addition, the Idaho Writers Guild hosts several events throughout the year. To supplement their English studies, learners can join book clubs, participate in workshops, and attend the annual Idaho Writers Conference in the spring.
Many affordable and accessible higher education institutions with English programs call Oklahoma home: Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma City University, the University of Tulsa, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University.
Because Oklahoma features a rich (and tragic) history of the working class, Native Americans, and the oil boom, the state has become a favorite source of inspiration for novelists. Any well-rounded literature student will recognize Oklahoma as the initial setting in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." The young adult novel "Where the Red Fern Grows" also takes place in Oklahoma.
Literary lovers can get involved in the Oklahoma Writers' Federation, which hosts an annual conference and sponsors a yearly writing conference. Oklahoma's Humanities Council provides grants and puts on public discussions for people in literature and the arts. For students in the state's capital, Oklahoma City runs a local writers' group.
Writers like like Jack London and Joan Didion found inspiration in Hawaii. Mark Twain also spent four months as a special correspondent in Hawaii, and his "Letters from Hawaii" collection became a published book in 1947.
Today, the Hawaii Writers Guild connects authors, poets, and essayists from across the state by hosting a conference each year in Kauai, which English students can attend to network with professionals in their field. Students can also get involved in the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, which offers grants for creative projects, presents lectures, and publishes anthologies.
Students can find English programs at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, and Chaminade University of Honolulu. When students graduate, they may not need to move to the mainland to find jobs. After all, Hawaii ranks as one of the top 10 states for PR professional employment, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.
How to Choose a Bachelor's in English Program
When applying to an English program, you have several factors to consider, many of which fall outside the realm of conventional academics. Logistical factors such as program duration, enrollment options, delivery format, cost, and location may contribute to your decision. Most full-time bachelor's programs take four years to complete, but part-time students might take longer to graduate. Some programs offer accelerated options that enable students to finish faster by taking a heavier course load, while others offer full-time enrollment, which may not work if you have a full-time job.
In general, online English programs offer more flexibility, and many allow you to take courses at your own pace. Online programs also cut down on many of the expenses associated with college, including transportation and accommodation costs. If you're enrolling in campus courses, a school's location may also influence your decision, particularly if you plan to seek employment there after graduation. Location can affect employment opportunities, cost of living, and quality of life, all of which may inform your choice of school.
College applicants should also take into account their prospective programs' academic options and requirements. When you find a program of interest, consider whether it offers specializations that interest you, whether it offers or mandates internship or practicum work, or if students must complete a thesis or some other type of intensive final project. Also make sure to verify each prospective school's accreditation status to determine its academic reputability.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in English Programs
When researching potential institution options, you should always make sure your schools of interest are properly accredited. Accreditation verifies a school's academic quality, indicating that the institution meets national or regional standards from a third-party governing body. Accreditation can determine whether your credits can transfer to other schools, and in some cases, whether you qualify to test for certain certification or licensure.
Most English programs don't have specific accrediting bodies, but you can ensure a school's reputability by determining its regional accreditation status. Regional accreditation comes from one of six agencies.
Bachelor's in English Program Admissions
You'll also want to decide how many college applications you'd like to submit. Most school counselors recommend that graduating high school seniors apply to around eight colleges: two to three dream schools, two to three more realistic choices, and two to three safety schools that you know will probably admit you. If you're a working professional, you might only apply to one or two programs, based on what best fits your needs for scheduling and location.
Most schools offer a simple online application process that you can complete entirely online. If you're applying to an online program, there may be slightly more involved admissions requirements, as you won't be completing any of the admissions or enrollment processes on campus. Admissions counselors can always help you navigate the intricacies of the application process.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in English Program?
English curriculum requirements vary greatly between programs. Moreover, many programs give students the option to specialize in a unique area of study, such as creative writing or comparative literature, providing them with general English knowledge and additional skills in their concentration area. Curriculum details may vary based on your chosen concentration, as detailed below.
|Literature||Literature involves the analysis and interpretation of literary texts, such as novels, short stories, plays, poems, and essays. Students gain the skills to examine these texts, primarily through essays and discussions. Many programs may offer further specialization options, such as American, British, or world literature.||Writer, teacher, editor|
|Creative Writing||Creative writing examines literature in the context of craft. This concentration analyzes how writers build stories and trains students to write their own creative works. Many courses overlap with the literature concentration, but creative writing also focuses heavily on students' own writing. A thesis or final project often involves the creation of a longform creative work.||Novelist, screenwriter, teacher|
|Film||In a film studies concentration, students examine films as literary texts, applying the same type of critical framework used to interpret literature. Courses explore the development of film and its relation to literature, and students gain the skills to write critically about film.||Film critic, teacher, writer|
|Comparative Literature||Comparative literature explores texts from different countries, examining literature as a facet of global culture. By drawing comparisons between different countries' literatures, students gain a deeper perspective on each nation's identity and values, exploring similarities and differences through a critical framework. Comparative literature majors typically concentrate in a foreign language, such as Spanish or French.||Teacher, journalist, publisher|
|Professional Writing||Professional writing focuses on the practical side of writing, including its use in the business world. Courses commonly explore topics in rhetoric and composition, emphasizing clarity and precise communication. Students also study literary texts, but these programs focus primarily on the application of writing for everyday use.||Technical writer, copywriter, public relations|
Courses in a Bachelor's in English Program
Specific courses for an English degree vary widely depending on school, program, and concentration area, but most programs cover similar topics, particularly when it comes to foundational courses. Below, you'll find a listing of five common English courses, along with descriptions of the material covered in each one.
Examining the period from directly after World War II and into the 21st century, this course focuses on unique developments in contemporary American literature and their relationship to the country's tumultuous postwar period. Students typically explore the development of literary movements such as postmodernism and immigrant literature.
This course teaches students to "read" films, introducing fundamental formal elements such as cinematography, editing, lighting, sound, and music. Students explore the history of film in the 20th century and its development as an artform, typically viewing works from throughout the century.
During the 20th century, literature experts developed new ways of reading and interpreting texts. Many programs require students to take at least one course that focuses on literary theory and practices of reading. This class provides a critical foundation for reading and introduces different methods for text interpretation.
Exploring the unique literature of the American South, this course encourages students to consider the relationship between literature and place. Coursework explores how authors depict regional identity in writing, commonly exploring the work of writers such as William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Katherine Anne Porter.
Increasingly the subject of academic study, science fiction now occupies a position of literary esteem, and many English programs include a course in science fiction and other fiction genres. Typically, students explore science fiction's capacity for social commentary and its relationship to current technology.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in English?
A bachelor's degree in English typically takes about four years of full-time study to complete, but several factors can affect your overall completion time. Part-time enrollment often serves the needs of working students. It enables them to complete courses without putting their careers on hold, but it also extends their time in school.
Many programs, particularly online degrees, offer the option to change course load each semester. You can also take summer courses to complete your degree faster. Taking extra courses cuts down on your time in school, but extra credits almost always equate to a higher tuition rate. Most colleges charge by the credit, so the more you take, the more pay. Precise credit requirements vary between schools and programs, but most undergraduate English degrees require a minimum of 120 credits to graduate.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in English?
The total cost of a bachelor's in English depends on several factors, including school, program format, delivery method, and your own logistical needs. When it comes to overall tuition, the most significant factor is a school's status as public or private. Public colleges receive state funding, which enables them to offer more affordable tuition rates to in-state students. Because private colleges do not receive state funding, they usually have higher tuition rates. Tuition varies widely between institutions, but CollegeBoard reported that for the 2017-2018 school year, the average annual tuition for a public college was $9,970, while tuition at a private college came to $34,740.
Several other factors can affect your overall education expenses. If you're a fresh high school graduate planning to enroll in on-campus courses, you may also consider campus housing, which increases costs significantly. Even if you don't plan to live on campus, the cost of commuting and parking each week can add to your expenses. Many students find online courses an affordable choice, as they eliminate many of the costs associated with traditional campus education. However, online classes typically include additional technology fees.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in English Prepares For
Teaching certification ranks among the most common pathways for English majors. Many English programs feature teaching certification options as part of their curriculum, but you can also pursue certification independently after completing your degree. Requirements vary between different states, but certification programs train students in teaching methods and classroom management strategies.
The Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) trains students to teach English to adult learners. This 120-hour certification course develops essential skills in English language education, and institutions worldwide recognize CELTA certification. Both language schools and international employers commonly hire certificate holders.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages certification refers to a wide variety of programs that confer different ESL teaching certificates. Available both online and in person, these programs train students to teach English to learners of all ages. Most programs require 120-180 hours of instruction.
Typically offered through English or communication departments, journalism certificate programs train students in the basic practices of reporting, including broadcasting and literary journalism. These certificate programs often connect students to internships at newspapers, magazines, websites, and other journalistic outlets, building professional experience and connections.
This certificate trains students to create stories, poems, plays, and other forms of creative writing. Courses typically explore one form of writing and involve workshops in which students share their work for critique. These certificate programs often connect students with writing mentors and potential publication opportunities.
Resources for English Students
Purdue University's Online Writing Lab hosts resources for all types of academic writing, including tips on organization, revision, citation, and subject-specific writing for English majors.
Poets & Writers
A trade magazine for creative writers, Poets & Writers features interviews and articles on modern authors as well as information on publication, agents, industry conferences, and academia.
The Society of Professional Journalists maintains this online resource to share information with journalism students or anyone interested in the journalistic writing. Informational topics include fact-checking, investigative journalism, and strategies for covering various topics.
This trade publication focuses on language, literacy, and education. English majors can find educational resources, study abroad opportunities, and even career opportunities available through a virtual job board.
Taking a lighthearted approach to grammar, punctuation, and usage, Grammar Girl offers helpful tips on writing issues both common and uncommon, helping ensure you that your writing stays as clear and professional as possible.
Professional Organizations in English
Professional organizations offer English majors the chance to connect with colleagues, sharing information and engaging in an active community. These organizations provide valuable support and resources for both current English students and graduates, including conferences, mentorship opportunities, professional development, continuing education, and specialized job listings. Most professional organizations require an annual membership fee, but the benefits of membership typically offset the cost.
National Council of Teachers of English
The NCTE serves English teachers at all grade levels, from grade school through college. Members receive access to networking services, academic journals, and annual events.
Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional organization for educators, maintains the Educators Rising program to support future teachers. The organization offers educational resources, professional conferences, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities.
The premier professional organization for creative writers, PEN counts many of the world's most notable novelists, poets, essayists, and playwrights among its members. The organization hosts conferences, scholarships, and literary awards.
American Society of Journalists and Authors
The ASJA supports professional freelance writers of all types, offering networking opportunities, professional development seminars, market data, and connections to editors and publishers.
Editorial Freelancers Association
A professional organization specifically for editors, the EFA offers continuing education, connections to clients, industry conferences and events, job postings, and an exclusive member newsletter.
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